Thursday Treasures

All too often I feel as if time is slipping by and I’m not doing enough to live my life to the fullest. I don’t know why I didn’t realize this earlier, but I sort of have a written record of everything that goes on in my life (well, the highlights at least) that I can read and remember all the things I’ve done- YOU’VE been reading it all along. If I were to take the time to go back into my blog archives and read about everything I’ve experienced, perhaps I would realize that I actually am doing a lot of things I love on a regular basis. I’m so quick to discount the neat things I do in my life.

Thus, this Thursday Treasures will not be an outlook into the weekend or an overview of the things I loved about this week, but it will reflect on this past month. February is a short one with it’s 28 day shenanigans BUT I actually managed to do a lot of cool things and have gone through a lot. I may have entered February with a gross head cold and not feeling like myself, but I’m definitely leaving February a much healthier, happier, fuller, and all around stronger, girl. And that notion I certainly do treasure.

Food Adventures:

Exercise Fun:

Assorted Other Happenings:

See, Allison- you do a lot. This is why reflection is such a valuable tool. Can you tell I went to Yoga last night? February was a month of love and I definitely did a great job at lovin’ on myself and focusing on my needs. It has been a time of immense change and growth which will only continue- God and myself willing. If I could handle all this in 28 days (whenever I type “28 days” I can’t stop picturing Sandra Bullock… anyone else know that movie?), I know I can handle whatever the future brings to me.

A short post to end the shortest month of the year.

Keep it wicked healthy xoxo

Avocado Each Day Keeps the Brain at Play

Fact: I eat a serving of avocado almost every single day. But its uncommon that I eat a serving of avocado with every meal of my day. Today that happened though and I have zero regrets about it.

Some people out there might be gasping- Oh but Allison, that’s so much fat! Avocados have a LOT of calories in them! I will admit, a serving with every meal today was a little over kill BUT, I digress and today was a rarity- avocados are amazing for you (if you didn’t already know). High in calories, but their benefits are more than worth it. I mean, just like every major food group necessary to our being, they should be best enjoyed in moderation.

They are one of those sources of healthy fats that we all need in our diets. Do your best to ignore those unhealthy fats like trans-fats that often come from partially hydrogenated oils and tend to be found in a lot of processed foods- get on the healthy fat train stat!

I know I know, the word “fat” doesn’t really make you want to dive into certain foods– but like I said, our bodies need fat to function properly.  According to the website Livestrong:

Good sources [of healthy fats] include olive and canola oils, nuts, nut butters, seeds, olives, avocadoes and fatty, cold-water fish like herring, mackerel, tuna, salmon and sardines. Healthy fats reduce inflammation and blood clotting, lower harmful LDL cholesterol in the blood, raise protective HDL cholesterol, reduce the rate of fat buildup in the arteries and lower the risk of fatal abnormal heart rhythms.

They also point out that our brain is 60% fat, thus it functions FAR better when we’re eating them on a regular basis. Livestrong adds to its rave review of healthy fats by writing:

Fats protect and insulate nerves, help keep the heart beating in a normal rhythm, keep the lungs from collapsing and cushion your internal organs. Fats slow digestion, provide a source of energy and satisfy the appetite for longer periods. Fats also make possible the absorption of vitamins A,D, E and K.

See? Pretty important. You know all those big salads you consume? And all those vitamins/minerals you think you’re taking in with your daily fruit? The key nutrients in those foods won’t even be absorbed and used by your body unless it has the fats in their too to process it all.

I never cut healthy fats out of my life or forgot their significance- but I wasn’t eating enough of them for a while. Now that I make sure to incorporate solid servings of them in my daily life- I’m a much happier girl. I have noticed an huge increase in my functionality at work, improved memory and concentration, less-dry skin, and stronger hair and nail beds. All great things.

I’m stepping off my little soap box now and am ready to share with you my avo-tastic day of eats. Starting with breakfast.

Ever since I’ve started on my meal plan from my registered dietitian, I have been eating overnight oats for breakfast every single morning. People have asked me, doesn’t that get so boring? My answer? NOPE. Almost every day my bowl of overnight oats has been different in some way so I haven’t even come close to getting bored with breakfast. Last night when I went to make my oats for this morning- I had the idea to incorporate avocado into my oats (instead of nut butter).

I had seen this idea somewhere before… and I knew that the creaminess of the avocado would work well in oats if combined with the right ingredients.

This might sound weird- but guys, I ate some of the best overnight oats of my lifetime this morning. I mixed together:

  • 1/3 avocado
  • 1 ripe banana
  • (I stirred and mashed the two above ingredients very well before adding the others)
  • 1 tbl. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. of agave (honey would also work)
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt (I used plain but I think a vanilla flavor would work better)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 2 tbl. chia seeds
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon
  • This morning I added in 2 tbl. of slivered almonds
  • Keep in mind- I have to stay within the restrictions that my R.D. provided for me- feel free to tailor this recipe based on what you’re looking for (lower calories, higher protein, less sugar, etc. etc.)

As I was making up the recipe and putting it all together, I almost didn’t take any pictures because I was worried it would come out tasting terribly and not even worth sharing. I forced myself to take at least one during the process so that I wouldn’t be photo-less. I figured hey you never know.

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It basically looked like chocolate pudding before I added the milk and greek yogurt. Nom.

From what I could taste on my mixing spoon though- it tasted GREAT. Perfect amount of slight sweetness and chocolately-ness. Avocado + banana + cocoa powder + chia seeds would make a delicious chocolate pudding I bet.

But I refrained from eating the bowl of yum and put it in the fridge covered with some cling wrap for the morning. I think I dreamed of the oats at some point last night…

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I was still a little nervous. I had no idea what to expect this morning.

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UMMMMMM. Dessert for breakfast much? That’s basically what this tasted like. Who says healthy doesn’t taste good? I will show them otherwise. The only thing that would have made this better would have been some sliced strawberries. Next time!

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You couldn’t even taste the avocado. The only thing I didn’t like about the oats was the tang from the greek yogurt. But trust me- even that didn’t detract from the goodness of this bowl.

Last night after I made my oats, I made my lunch for today as well to bring to work. Inspired yet again by Anne’s “smoked salmon and dill wrap” I got to making a killer sandwich. My version is basically exactly what she makes but with two additions (cucumber and avocado). My lunch wrap included smoked salmon, laughing cow swiss cheese, dill, avocado, a sliced persian cucumber, and spinach.

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Buying dill was such a worthwhile investment.

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I’ve discovered that persian cucumbers > regular cucumbers. Little food is just cuter thus more enjoyable, is it not?

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Obviously you should roll up and wrap your sandwich in foil because 1) you gotta have something to hold it together and keep your hands clean, but more importantly 2) you’ll look like a professional as you eat your lunch. Nah I didn’t buy this sandwich, I just run a little deli in my kitchen.

I highly recommend this sandwich combo- you will not be disappointed. Another highlight of lunch (no avo related) was finally getting to try Chobani’s new banana flavored yogurt! I topped that bad boy with some toasted coconut chips from Trader Joes and it was so so so good. Maybe next time I’ll add some pineapple chunks… the possibilities.

Instead of hitting up my gym after work, I decided to drop into a yoga studio in Woodley Park for a free first timers class (thanks to the research done by the DC Fit Crasher– thanks girl!) at a place called “Unity Woods. Very yogi-y sounding- I know.

I have really been trying to get to yoga more often, but I don’t really like the yoga classes my gym offers. Free first time classes like this one have helped me still get my yoga on even if it’s not at my gym. That class started at 6:30pm and ended at 7:45pm which is like the worst for me because I can’t really eat dinner before (because you’re supposed to not have a fully belly for yoga) and getting out and not getting home till after 8 would leave me wicked hungry. I go to bed at ten so eating by 8 is usually one of my top priorities. So I ate a bigger afternoon snack and planned on getting some food nearby the studio post class instead of waiting till I got home to make food.

Where did I go? Chipotle. Knowing that my R.D. would want me to get my whole grains, veggies, protein, and healthy fats in, I ordered a burrito bowl with steak, brown rice, light amount of black beans, double fajita vegetables, tomato and green chili salsa, and guacamole (yep- there’s my third serving of avocado for the day). Chipotle isn’t the healthiest place in the world- but there are ways to make a well rounded meal there if you just plan it right.

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One of the things I’ve been really trying to practice (per R.D. recommendation) is letting go of making every single one of my meals especially when making my own food is going to be inconvenient for me or will stress me out. It was nice on a night like this to have someone else make food for me when I knew I wasn’t going to get home till late. Practicing ordering good meals out at places and not seeing “eating out” as slightly taboo-ed is something I really need to be doing.

Although I am an advocate for eating everything in moderation, I cannot deny that this unplanned day of avocado has been a fun one. All my meals were delicious and my body was satisfied.

Random side note: slicing into an avocado will always remind me of my Mom. I remember growing up and her LOVING them. She tried to convince me to try them all the time and wouldn’t stop telling me how good guacamole was… I figured she was wrong (mom is always right- duh Allison). I thought she was crazy for thinking they were so good. I didn’t believe her or take her word for it till I was a FRESHMAN in COLLEGE. For most of my life I though avocados were gross and green and weird and not for me. Who am I? Again, shout out to my Mom for knowing what was up all along.

Also- shout out to my friend Kendall who is currently working in NYC. She was one of my first AU friends and she was the person who got me to try guacamole in her dorm room adjacent to mine. Thank God she’s a hard person to say no to because otherwise I might still be avocado-less.

Healthy fats are some of the yummiest and most versatile foods out there. I hope you all are getting yours in and enjoying every single bite 🙂

Keep it wicked healthy xoxo

Reduce Your Drag

I feel like I have a bajillion things to do and not enough time to do them! BAH! How did I ever manage to balance school, working two jobs, my senior thesis, school activities, friends, family, etc. etc. a year ago? I try and remind myself that if I could get through all that and be fine- my life should be a piece of cake now. No matter what though, I always seem to find some way to fill up all my time and then before I know it- it’s time to crawl into bed. Last night I was so tired that I hit the hay at 9:30pm. But hey man, to be fair, sleep is important. I’ve come to see how much better my days are when I get as close to eight hours of shut eye a night as possible.

My broken record mantra as of late is still going strong in my brain- one day at a time- just doing my best. My work toward ignoring the perfectionist voice in my life has made each day a lot better. Instead of feeling guilty for not tackling everything I wanted to accomplish in a day, I just put it on priority for the next day and try not to stress about it. I also have been trying to get better at marking things that need to be done and things that won’t cause my world to crumble if they don’t happen (aka most things). I was anxious leaving my apartment this morning because I didn’t have time to make my bed. As I got into the elevator I had a little talk with myself and realized how DUMB stressing over something like THAT is. Who am I?

Yesterday was busy day at work and jam packed with appointments and meetings and shenanigans. Today is looking like the same so I should probably keep this post on the shorter side.

Last night I tried out the new cycling/spin studio on 14th Street (like four blocks from my apartment- score!) called Peloton. Like I was saying earlier, yesterday post-work I was feeling pretty tired so when the time came around for me to head over to the class at 7pm I was less than excited to be honest. BUT I had signed up already, was committed to going, it was close by, AND it was free. So I went anyway.

It’s a part of the same building on 14th Street where you’ll find Crossfit/Praxis (right up the street from my favorite restaurant, Busboys and Poets). Perhaps like me you are curious as to the name of the studio, “Peloton.” They explain the origin on their website:

The word “peloton” refers to the main pack of riders in a road race. There is nothing haphazard about the creation of a peloton – it is intentional and strategic. We have chosen to incorporate peloton into our name because the energy in each class will come from the instructor and from each cyclist alike.

The more you know, right? I thought it was pretty cool.

The studio itself was so different than any other spin studio I’ve been in. In fact, I wouldn’t even call it a “spin studio” because that just connotes dark lighting, dark painted walls, neon lights, and blaring music. Peloton is definitely more of a “cycling studio” that makes you feel more like you’re actually outside riding your bike as opposed to being very well aware of the fact that you’re in a gym of some sort. The decor was simple and bare- but not in a bad way. I felt like the way the studio was designed made there more of an emphasis on the reason why we were all their- to cycle, to compete, and to ride. It didn’t have over the top amenities but that was okay. I came in and it’s simple set up made me feel comfortable but also just put me in the mindset like alright- let’s do this thing- let’s get on those bikes and put the pedal to the metal!

The lights were dimmed down low but because of the big open windows onto 14th Street, the room was illuminated with the city lights (which I thought was cool and again, contributed more to that “just on the road riding my bike” feel).

I didn’t take this picture, but this is what the cycling studio looks like in the daylight hours. See what I mean? Pretty basic, white walls, and natural lighting.

The class I took was led by Misook Issa and was one of their 75-minute “All Rounder” classes:

Perfect mix of extended climbs and challenging sprints followed by intense strength training to help you prepare for the hazardous path to the finish line.

I didn’t know what to expect, but I was excited. As some of you may have read, last Monday I tried out ZenGo Fitness in Bethesda and they too offered strength training in addition to just riding your bike. I didn’t know if Peloton’s strength training would be like that or something different. Whereas ZenGo’s class utilized 2 lb. hand weights while sitting in the saddle on the bike, Peloton actually has you get off the bike for the last part of class and break out mats and resistance bands. The strength training post-ride was HARD lemme just say that. It definitely challenged me in a good way. We did leg, arm, and core work and I was huffing and puffing my way through a lot of it.

The actual “ride” part was also really different than other spin classes I’ve experienced. The really nice bikes have a rpm feature on them so you can keep track of your speed. Throughout the class, the instructor would tell us where we should be in terms of rpm (ex. you should be in the high 70s or you should be sprinting close to 120). She said, if you can’t get to that rpm, lighten the resistance a little bit so you can get there. I’ve never been to a spin studio that had this feature and used it to structure their rides. I found it realllllly useful to have something to judge how hard I was pushing myself (as opposed to how I normally judge how hard I’m pushing myself- the sweat pouring off my head… which isn’t a bad method I must say). It was interesting to have everyone sort of be going at the same pace- it brought a team feel to cycling (but didn’t take away that slight competitive edge) that usually I don’t experience. Spin classes tend to be very individual based in my experience.

The instructor was motivational, not obnoxious in the slightest (and actually really sweet!), and she was extremely helpful in getting my bike all set up for me. She knew a lot of people in the class by name and seemed really in tune with the needs of the people there- including myself. I like when I go to a new studio or class and the instructor is cool. Big thumbs up.

When I got home, I read more about the Peloton and was really digging their message:

Peloton Cycling provides a respite from the relentless bustle of the City’s highways and temperamental climate. Here, you can shed all things that drag and concentrate on the heart and soul of cycling – the ride.

They have as one of their mottoes, “reduce your drag” which I thought was really neat. Especially because pre-class I was feeling that Monday drag. I didn’t really want to workout that much and I was tired and stressed out. BUT going to the class definitely allowed me to let go a little bit and just ride. Throughout the class, the instructor actually would emphasize the phrase, ride easy, and refer to us riding as if we were on the road or riding in a race.

Let’s just say I MUCH prefered the motto “reduce your drag” over the instructor at ZenGo Fitness in Bethesda yelling in a deep Ke$ha like voice, “show me your swag.” But hey, to each their own.

Also upon arriving home, I checked my mail and saw that I had a letter from one of my best friends from home. It included a thoughtful, motivational card and a little note that I now have tacked to the bulletin board right outside my kitchen.

P1000492I now get to look at this every single day and remind myself of these things. Have I mentioned how great my friends are? Okay good. Because they’re great.

I knew I needed to eat a snack so I took those words to heart and reiterated the phrase given to my by my counselor, “be kind to yourself.” In fact, I took that phrase quite literally and enjoyed a cherry/dark chocolate KIND bar (I LOVE KIND bars- so good) with some vanilla almond milk.

P1000493I hope that you’re all being kind to yourselves on this Tuesday morning and taking the day as it comes.

Keep it wicked healthy xoxo

Home is Where Mom Is

I know my last post was about an important birthday, but I present to you another birthday post on this fine Monday morning. I can’t help it that two amazing women in my life were born so close together. Today is my Mom’s birthday!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!

The mother/daughter relationship is always an intense one but I feel like ours is extra special because I’m her oldest daughter and her first baby. The two of us have certainly had our ups and downs- but I can honestly say that as the years have passed, we have only grown closer and have come to better understandings of each other. The traits that we share have become more apparent and I have come to realize in how many unexpected ways that we are alike. I don’t hate it 😉

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My sister recently shared this old picture of me (brown hair), her, and my Mom on Halloween at my Grandparents’ house. Three little divas.

When I’m happy- when I’m sad- when I’m angry- she’s the one I think to call. When I really need someone the most, nothing beats the comfort and love that she can bring into my life. If she knows one of her kids is upset, she cannot turn them away- in fact- all she wants to do when I’m upset is make all my problems go away and rescue me. Her hugs, her soothing rubs on my back, and the calming “shhhhh” noises she makes when I can’t stop crying- make me feel more protected and loved than anything else. When I am absolutely devastated and everything feels hopeless, more often than not, I can be found saying, I just want to go home- I just want to be curled up with my Mom. 

She has always been a cheerleader in my life- offering her support and backing for all of my hearts strongest desires. I know me being so far away in D.C. isn’t easy for her, but the level of understanding she brings to the situation is critical to me being here. She knows why I came here, why I love it, why I stayed, and she supports my decision to be in the mid-atlantic so long as its what I still want out of life.

Whether I like it or not, she asks me the questions I didn’t think to ask myself about particular situations and offers her advice. More often than I will admit, she’s right in her judgement or assessments (Mom’s always right- someday we’ll all learn).

Truth be told, my Mom has lived a lot of life. That sounds dumb- but when I think of her and everything she’s been through and all the things she’s experienced, I can’t help but think that she has really lived and been through SO much. That’s why she is full of so much useful wisdom and knowledge- she’s really lived. She is a very strong person and she always finds a way up when life knocks her down. When she knows that she needs to make a change in her life, she stays committed to that change and tries her hardest to do her best every single day. I admire her strength in the face of sometimes bleak odds and hope she knows that we all take notice of the hard work she puts into her life to make changes and get to where she wants to be.

My Mom is definitely wicked smart (in terms of books and education), but I think what I have gained the most from her is practical knowledge that I use in my every day life. Whether it’s cooking on the fly without a recipe, how to put on tights/nylons without tearing them, how to fold laundry correctly, or the proper etiquette for addressing a letter- I learned it from her. She seems to know what to do in each and every everyday life situation.Whenever I didn’t know how to do something like write a check or what to talk about with the doctor when I went into my first appointment without her- she knew. I knew that my Mom would always have the answer for whatever question I had about life- even if I didn’t ask- she would always prep me and prepare me to handle all the stressful things that would come my way. She would think of things to tell me that I never would have been able to even anticipate having to ask about. Sometimes she might not reaallllly know or have the “best” answer for things- but she without fail had an answer based on her infinite life wisdom that was WAY better than anything I could have come up with.

The amount of street smarts I have picked up from her is insane. I take for granted how much I know about little things only because of her. She might not have specifically sat me down and taught me how to do all of these- but I learned so much just by watching her and emulating her. To this day whenever I attempt to put lipstick on (and usually fail and end up wiping it off), I think of her in our little blue bathroom and how she would do it. When I went off to school at American, it blew my mind how much stuff people didn’t know and not to be rude, but how dumb some kids were when it came to having a basic knowledge of cooking, cleaning, etiquette, and all around street smarts. I feel so lucky to have been able to take advantage of all of my Mom’s skills and wisdom.

I was blessed with her gorgeous dark hair and deep, dark brown eyes. Whenever I get compliments or people say things like where do you get your good looks from? I am always quick to say- MY MOM. She has always been so beautiful. Her complexion is to die for and her smile when’s she’s truly happy- it could brighten any room I swear. Don’t even get me started on how infectious her laugh is.

I could go on and on and on listing memory after memory with my Mom and telling you all the fabulous things about her- but this post doesn’t need to be a novella. My Mom is truly great and I love her more than words can say. She’s always managed to juggle taking care of me and my three sisters, my stepdad, worrying about the rest of my gigantic family, and managing our entire household on a day to day basis. I feel so lucky to have such a loving, smart, beautiful, and caring Mom.

She’s cozy, she’s warm, she’s home.

When I talked to her over the weekend, she told me that she was going to start her week by getting back to the gym and making time for herself. She wants to kick her habit of over indulging on sweets that she has slipped into and make the effort to be healthier. She is quite the admirable lady 🙂 I hope that she has a wonderful day to herself and does all that she wants to do. She has been doing a lot for others and truly deserves to take the time to relax and enjoy her birthday. As I said earlier, she is always worrying about everyone else and forgets to take care of herself and her needs- so I really really hope she reserves time for herself more often and gives herself the love she deserves. Plus, when she is happy- I’m a happier person. Hearing her cheerful voice on the phone just puts me in a better mood. Good people doing good things deserve to be happy- so I love when she is smiling and seeing the wonderful things in the world.

I made a little sweet treat last night with Will while we watched the Oscars and I want to share the recipe with you all- but especially with her because

  1. I think she’d love it and
  2. It’s the perfect dessert to satisfy your sweet tooth while also keeping it healthy! You can totally enjoy these, Mom, while also staying true to the renewed commitment your making to yourself today. OH and
  3. It’s from the Food Network’s website and I thought that was appropriate seeing as we’ve spent A LOT of time watching that channel together.

So what is this recipe I’m talking up? Chocolate-Dipped Clementines.

I used oranges because it’s what I had in my kitchen- really I think any orangey citrus fruit would be delicious with this- but the original recipe uses clementines. All you need is some chocolate (I used some dark chocolate chips I had), clementines or oranges, a little bit of salt, and some parchment paper.

Making these bad boys might convince you that you could start your own version of “Edible Arrangements” from your kitchen and perhaps turn a profit. You probably couldn’t so don’t get TOO ahead of yourself- sorry to burst your bubble- but that company sort of is the king of the niche market of chocolate covered fruit baskets.

BUT you can save yourself some money and make your own chocolate dipped fruit. That’s what this recipe is great for.

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Peel and segment your citrus and lay out on some parchment paper.

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Melt your chocolate in either the microwave or a double boiler and then dip half of each segment into the melted chocolate. They don’t need to perfect or need (use my photo above as evidence)

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The salt is optional, but if you’re a fan of the salt and chocolate combo- sprinkle a little salt over the chocolate while it’s still melty.

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Let harden on the counter for a little bit or throw in the fridge for about ten minutes for the chocolate to harden.

This little recipe got me excited for Easter because it made me think of those chocolate oranges- you know the chocolate sphere shaped and flavored with orange that breaks into segments? These tasted JUST like those! Go figure, right?

I remember when these chocolate oranges first came out or got weirdly popular when I was younger and writing a letter to the Easter bunny BEGGING for him to give me one. I think I actually offered him a deal- he could forgo giving me ALL my other Easter candy if he would just give me ONE chocolate orange. Typical, Allison. Hilarious. My Mom might still have that letter… I wouldn’t be surprised- she saves all of those cute and important things (one of the many things I love about her). Hopefully she remembers me doing this and laughs.

Irregardless, it made me even more excited than I already am to go home for Easter a month from now! I can’t wait to give my Mom world’s biggest hug.

Again, Happy Birthday, Mom. I love you so much and hope you have a truly fabulous day. You deserve to smile and laugh and feel loved today and every day. Saying “thank you for everything” doesn’t even begin to cover how grateful I am to have you in my life.

Keep it wicked healthy xoxo

One of my Favorite People

Today is the birthday of one of my most favorite people in the whole entire world, my grandmother. I call her Mema (pronounced (me-mah) which was something little Allison made up I guess when she couldn’t say grandma and made a hybrid with grammy or mommy or something like that. Who knows. BUT Mema stuck and now it’s what all the grand kids call her. I am the oldest of all of her grandchildren so I am the trendsetter he he.

As I was saying… HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MEMA!

This woman has always been a role model to me for so many reasons. I don’t think I know a more caring, loving, and sweet human being. She has worked so hard her entire life and hardly ever complains and continually just gives so much of herself to helping other people. Her unwavering faith in the goodness of others and her persistence in helping the community at large is truly amazing. Heck, she was named “Person of the Year” in my town (no joke) a couple years back. She runs the food pantry day and night in our town and never stops volunteering to help those in need. I see what she does for others and how she has lived her life and its impossible to not feel the intense desire to emulate all the good that she radiates.

I was lucky and both sets of my grandparents were major parts of my life growing up. My grandmother whose birthday is today, my Mom’s Mom, has lived a mile from my own front door for all of my life that I can remember. She helped raise me and at least half of my memories growing up involve her and my grandfather. We’ve always been wicked close. When I think of “home” in Massachusetts, their house is just as much a part of that as my own home.

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You may have seen this picture already on my “About Me” page but this is my stepdad, mom, sisters, grandparents, and myself over the holidays.

She taught me how to say my prayers, how to eat healthy snacks, how to play Chinese checkers, how to be thrifty, and how to make a pie, most importantly- she influenced such a major part of my character and who I grew up to be and the values that I find the most important in life.

Not to mention, she is so beautiful. If I get to be her age and am even half as lovely, accomplished, and not jaded but so so so kind- I will consider myself beyond lucky. Her laugh is infectious and genuine and just thinking about it makes me smile. Her hair is the most glorious shade of gray I’ve ever seen (I’m crossing my fingers I have her genes there!). She jokes about her wrinkles, but she’s aged so gracefully and when I see her I still think- damn, she IS a looker. But it’s more than just appearance, it’s who she is that always shines through.

She has always been a good reminder to not care what anyone else thinks of you. Growing up of course kids feel like the adults in their life are embarrassing sometimes with either how they dress or act or whatever. She has always seemed so strong in her reserve and in who she is as a person- she basically couldn’t care less what the world thought of her (appearance and otherwise) if she was confident in what she was doing and felt good about what she was doing. I always thought that was so cool.

My grandparents being fairly young, I was also blessed to have two very active grandparents. We always went for walks, played outside, raked with my grandfather, rode bikes in the driveway, and we were always encouraged to get off the computer (once that became a thing). My sister and I spent a lot of time in their house, sure, but we also spent a lot of time outside doing stuff with them that didn’t involve technology. My grandmother was always into fitness and I can remember her taking some classes at a nearby place. They both never made me feel guilty for being overweight whatsoever, but they encourage me to be more active and to get outside.

My grandmother, like me now, also holds a “common-sense” approach to healthy eating. No food was ever off limits but things always felt healthier at Mema and Poppa’s house. She always had whole grain bread (even if I chose the white bread she had on hand anyway), always had fruit, always had veggies, and always made recipes that weren’t crazy healthy creations- but they were good for you and delicious. Our snacks (while sometimes influenced by the cookies my grandfather was pushing) were peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on crackers, sliced bananas in a bowl of milk, and cheese sticks (but I hated cheese sticks- those were for my sister). In hindsight, I really feel like she had the perfect balance of eating right, but also being a human being who loves sweets, down pat. Everything in moderation- everything in balance. She definitely represents that to me.

I could go on an on an on for days weeks years eternity about this woman and I still wouldn’t even cover everything she is to me and to everyone around her. So again I say, Happy Birthday, Mema! You deserve everything good.

When thinking of what to give her for her birthday, I got a little stumped. But then I remembered the company Harry and David. They apparently have the best pears in the country? I didn’t know of their existence until I joined the blogging world and started seeing them pop up on peoples blogs. They essentially deliver pears and other fruits/goodies. The more you know. SO I sent her some pears hoping they’d be as sweet as her 😉 cheesy, but accurate. Plus, as a healthy role model in my life and nutrition and all that jazz being such a big part of my world these days, I felt they were appropriate.

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And this is one of the funny pictures that we took the same night. We were yelling out to do random faces right before the camera took our picture and this was our mean picture face.

I want to share with you one of her recipes in honor of her birthday. Seeing as its still chilly outside and spring isn’t walking into our lives anytime soon, I thought her apple crisp recipe would be a good one to share. Yes, definitely more of a fall/holiday time recipe but let’s be real- apple crisp is always good. And hers is even better than good- it’s amazing. I’ve talked it up before. Her and I both have pretty serious sweet tooths too so I feel it is only appropriate that I share a dessert recipe.

It’s warm, easy, cozy, and delicious. It’s best served with cool whip or vanilla ice cream (or if you’re like me and dig it, frozen cool whip). Plus, it’s not all that calorie-licious for those of you concerned.

Apple Crisp

(Makes 9×13 pan)

  • 10 cups sliced apples (cored and peeled)
  • 1/2 cup margarine
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon and 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 3/4 cup flour
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Spray pan with buttery cooking spray like Pam
  3. Place apples in pan
  4. Mix dry ingredients and then cut in margarine with a pastry blender or two forks
  5. Sprinkle over apples evenly
  6. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly
  7. Serve warm or cold (it stores great in the fridge and big batches even work well being stored in the freezer)

She also recommends halving the recipe and just baking it in a smaller pan or pie plate (for people like me who live with less than two people- the big recipe above is best for my BIG family)

Keep it wicked healthy xoxo

Bright When Cloudy

It’s amazing how much happier I’ve been these days. Only further motivation to continue on with my new eating plan. It’s overcast and rainy and cold outside but today is even brighter than the sunniest days DC has provided in the past couple of months. Having a clearer head and clearer heart and fuller belly is a truly wonderful thing. Again, I’m taking one day at a time but seeing as today has been a good day, I feel as if I should shout it from the rooftops. Good days are important to remember and love on.

Although, I was a totally dummy this morning and injured my tailbone slightly. Blargh! I went to a bootcamp class earlier at my gym and when I went to sit at the rowing machine, I scootched back and missed the seat- sitting directly on the very hard 4 inch bar of metal behind me. Wahhh. My tailbone and lower back are already pretty sensitive so I was a sad kid when I did this. When I was asked to do sit-ups right after the rowing machine, I was like… you’ve got to be kidding me. Luckily it’s not a major injury or anything like that but it is definitely sore and definitely annoying.

I stopped by Dunkin Donuts when leaving the gym though and that brightened my spirits

Today has been spent paddling my own canoe: working on blog stuff, grocery shopping, watching Sex and the City like the obsessed gal I am, and just hanging out. I love my Fridays off, man.

Anddd I have to share my excitement over what I saw at my local Harris Teeter… the two new Chobani flavors! AHHHHH! I’ve been looking for them everywhere and waiting to see them so I could pounce. I am so AMPED to try these. They just sound sooooo good!

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0% Pear and 2% Banana! Words cannot describe my happiness.

This week will also be a fishy one as I picked up some smoked salmon for lunch wraps (smoked salmon + avocado + swiss + dill + whole grain wrap = amazing) and some cheap tilapia fillets for dinners.

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Seafood & Allison, forever in love.

I would also like to share some good news with you all. So the NBC Health and Fitness Expo is coming to the DC Convention Center from March 16th-17th. I was contacted by a company to be a advocate for healthy lifestyles in one of their booths. Diet-to-Go (@diettogo on Twitter) reached out to me because of my “common-sense healthy” philosophy that I live by now and that I used to lose all the weight I did.

Now before people get all uppidy about me “working with” a company like this- I am not in any way shape or form promoting their company or endorsing themI am just working on their team of people who share the same belief that sustainable weight loss and healthier lifestyle come about through simple and non-extreme changes in our everyday lives.

And while I love making my own food and can’t imagine having someone else deliver meals to me (what diet-to-go offers)- to each their own man! I’m lucky enough to have the time to cook for myself- I understand that some people really don’t or they hate cooking. If having healthy meals delivered to them helps them to eat a balanced diet or achieve their weight loss goals, power to them!

I am so grateful for this company reaching out to me and asking me to be a part of this. Thank you again, Diet-to-Go, I feel SO blessed and lucky and flattered. They seem like a cool company, but what it comes down to is- our philosophies align.

Any one who advocates for setting realistic and attainable goals for ourselves that will either help us lose weight or achieve a healthier lifestyle for the long haul is alright with me. They, like me, are advocates for people making small changes that make sense in their lives, that are affordable, accessible, sustainable, and easy to integrate into existing lifestyles. They, also like me, are strongly opposed to extreme diets and ideas toward nutrition, regimens that disrupt your already existing lifestyle in a major way that would make you unhappy (or your relationships, work performance, etc. suffer), diet pills, untasty food, fasting, cleansing, self-punishment, and as they say, “other strategies that lack common-sense.”

Plus, any way that I can share my life with others and help people trying to navigate their own path toward being healthier- I’m all in. My favorite thing in life is helping people and being their for people and this will allow me to do that in a big way.

Agreeing to be a part of the Expo with them will allow me to talk with people- share my story- and share my beliefs on health, nutrition, eating right, exercising, and having an all around healthy lifestyle. It will give me a platform to talk about how living healthy isn’t a race or a competition (with a specific endpoint or a goal) but it’s about the individual choices we make everyday to better our lives. Because at the end of the day- it’s just you- it’s just you trying to make a difference in the health of your body in mind. There’s no need to feel overwhelmed or like you need to do something crazy to lose weight (i.e. fad diets, clenses, over-exercising, under eating, etc.). It is truly possible over a period of time to lose weight through eating better and exercising more. More importantly, living healthy and staying healthy is an attainable goal if you make changes in your life that you believe in and put in the effort day in and day out to give your body what it deserves.

So yes! If you want to MEET ME or come visit me (for those of you who know me already), I will keep you updated on the times in which I’ll be at the Expo! You can ask me about my blog, what living healthy means to me, take pics, and all that jazz. I’m there to answer any food/exercise questions you may have to to talk about my life as an everyday gal working hard in Washington D.C. Hopefully I’ll see you there 🙂

Here are some basic Expo deets:

  • March 16th and March 17th (Friday and Saturday)
  • 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Location: Washington Convention Center
  • It’s the largest health and fitness expo in the country and will have free activities (rock climbing, virtual skiing, etc.) health tests and screenings, other cool representatives on healthy shenanigans, opportunities to test new and fun exercise equipment being created, exercise demos, cooking demos, the list goes on!
  • Click here to go to the event page 🙂

Speaking of common sense healthy lifestyles, one of the things I think people struggle with the most is eating out and making good decisions. I swear to you- it doesn’t have to be so hard. I make most of my own food because I enjoy doing that but I love eating out and I love being social with friends at local places. DC is like a healthy eaters dream world. There is something “healthy” you can get just about anywhere.

Tonight I’m going to BGR: The Burger Joint with a couple of my friends (well actually it’s my sorority family). Their burgers are delicious. BUT if you’re looking to keep it a little lighter- they have a solid turkey burger and veggie burger. BUT if you’re looking to keep it a little lighter AND eat something that tastes like it fell straight out of heaven… get the ahi tuna burger. Tuna, grilled pineapple, pickled ginger, teriyaki sauce, and their mojo sauce on a bun? Words cannot describe it’s goodness. Andddd right now it’s $2 off in honor of Lent! For some reason this just cracks me up…

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I saw the sign and just had to take a picture when I was there last time.

Not to mention, BGR has regular fries, sweet potato fries, AND grilled asparagus! So now who was saying that eating out while trying to be healthy (and not feel like you’re depriving yourself of foodie bliss) was hard? Send them my way. I’ll show em’ around.

Okay, that’s all I have to report for now. I’m pretty sure there are ice pellets falling from the sky currently… not quite hail but it’s looking nasty. To channel warmer weather and pretend this mess isn’t happening- I’m heading up to Target to get a bathing suit for Miami in April! WAHOO. It hasn’t really hit me yet that I’m going buttttt… I figure I better start getting ready. I have zero spring or summer apparel that fits me. Rough.

So much for that shopping ban I put on myself. Maybe I’ll do better in March? Eh. I’m a shopaholic. I need to just accept it. Well, I think I accept it. It’s my bank account that doesn’t.

Happy weekend everybody- I hope you’re Friday’s have been sweet thus far 🙂

Keep it wicked healthy xoxo

Thursday Treasures

Usually on Thursdays you’ll read me saying things like, how is it Thursday again already- time flies! But today I woke up and was like… how is it only Thursday? I feel like a lifetime has gone by. It was this time last week that I had an absolutely terrible day in regards to my mental battles with food and my health. It was this time last week that I had the worst Valentines Day that I can remember because of what was going on with me and my food issues. This means it has been LESS than one week since I got a new and improved meal plan from my registered dietitian and she convinced me to my core to eat more.

I’ve been taking every single day one minute at a time. Whenever I start to get overwhelmed I try and repeat one day at a time as many times as possible to myself. Eating more and pushing these boundaries I set with food in the year time period that I was losing weight is extremely hard. Like really hard. Every day is a challenge and every day is long. Last night when I started to have a “moment” because I felt so stressed about all the new things I’m doing per recommendation of my RD and counselor, I did my best to take a deep breath and remind myself that it has been LESS than ONE week since I started all this. I need to realize it’s going to take time- remember my own advice and know that life isn’t a race and I need to be patient.

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I’ve been reading a book called My Life Without ED by Jenni Schaefer (she refers to her eating disorder as a man separate from herself and aptly names him “E.D.”). It’s an amazing book and it continually floors me with how spot on accurate she is at describing some of the things I’m going through. There have been times where I have just burst into tears because she’s so spot on. It’s hard to read in black and white what I’m dealing with. I just can’t even believe sometimes that someone out there knows exactly what is happening in my head. But it is comforting to read on some level. Jenni was able to fully recover.

She delivers her story with a sense of humor and realness that you usually can’t find in texts that handle disordered eating. I personally try and bring as much humor into my heavy situation as possible so I appreciate her attitude toward it all. Also, the idea that her therapist gave her to separate herself (her needs, her thoughts, her wants, her desires, her life) from Ed (his thoughts, his wants for her, his desires for her) has been ridiculously helpful for me. Whenever I find myself questioning whether or not I should do something and rational Allison is at battle with the scary disordered eating thoughts- I try and take a step back and say no to Ed.

Example: Ed doesn’t think I should eat this because I didn’t exercise today. BUT I know I should eat this because I need food first of all as it is dinner time and it has been asked of me by my registered dietitian that I stick to my designated meal plan. Ed wants me to sabotage all of my progress because he’s convinced I need him in my life. I want to see the life in my face again, gain weight to be able to live easy and healthily, and break the cycle of control that food and Ed has over me. That’s what I want so I’m going to eat this food. Sorry I’m not sorry, Ed. It’s not easy and sometimes this dialogue with myself involves tears and it always involves anxiety and uncomfortablness. But it makes ME feel sane and normal.

Letting go of Ed and his control is probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever attempted to do. It’s scary and sobering to realize that I need to re-learn to love myself and remember who I am. I need to tackle ME head on and stop hiding behind all of my food and Ed and the control. I never thought “being myself” and finding myself would be so hard. As Jenni writes:

I was frequently afraid to let Ed go. Ed was my main way of coping with life. To fully let Ed go, I had to find other ways to deal with life. I also had to be willing to let go of the things I “liked” about Ed. I liked how Ed made me feel special (i.e. being the thinnest one in the room). I had to find other ways to feel special: by just being myself.

In addition to her marking Ed as a person outside of her rational self, she also identifies another person in her life- Ms. Perfection. Ms. Perfection regulates her time- telling her when she should be doing things, that she should be doing things in the most efficient way possible, and always telling her that she is a failure if something doesn’t go according to her plan. For me, Ms. Perfection is just as intense as Ed. Separating those perfectionist thoughts from my own reality has been so helpful.

There have been moments where I’ve been able to think okay- why am I stressed? because it took me longer to do my laundry than I thought? what are the actual consequence of that- absolutely nothing. I don’t operate on a time table. I’m not late for anything. I didn’t fail my entire day. screw you Ms. Perfection. it’s laundry. and this is MY Sunday. this message goes out to you and Ed, I do deserve to eat and be happy today.

And I always try and remember this quote from her book:

Replace perfectionism with persistence. After all, in recovery and life, it’s persistence that really pays off. Forget about perfection.

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A brilliant blogger, Sarah, who authors the blog Picky Runner wrote a fabulous post of perfectionism and re-learning to enjoy life. I had to give her a shout out because her post really hit home with me. Thanks, girl.

If you want to understand my emotions and mindset better (or that of anyone you love who struggles with food and their weight)- read this book. I recently asked Will to start reading it (and gave it to him) and because he is the champion of my life, he is reading it. I find that I get so frustrated and overwhelmed when I try and explain what I’m going through to him and other people because really, unless you’ve been in a situation like this- there is no way you can understand. People want to get it. But they can’t. This book is the greatest tool out there for people to see a glimpse into my mind.

I will say, that even though people can’t understand- the love and support of the people around me has been the number two thing getting me through all this (the first thing being my own willpower and desire for change). Jenni really says it best:

There is no magic wand, but I wanted one. And it was me. I had to make the choice to get better, and it was a hard one. But other people believed that I could, and when I believed it too, I started getting better.

So while people look to me and say- you’re full of so much strength and courage! I am trying to acknowledge that yes, they are right. I can do this. But also, I want them to know that I cannot do this without them and their belief that I can be better and move forward. Knowing that other people can still see the spark in me when I can’t feel my own passion is priceless. Really, it is.

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OKAY hopefully that wasn’t too heavy for all of you on this lovely Thursday. But I think it’s the perfect segway into my Thursday Treasures because as a part of re-learning to enjoy my life and myself, I need to focus on the brighter things in life that I appreciate and adore.

1) Life Without Ed by Jenni Schaefer

Reading small segments of this book at a time has been more helpful than most things and life and I cannot thank my counselor enough for recommending it to me. Mana, you’re the greatest.

2) Breakfast

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Hopefully my friend Natasha reads this post and sees that I’m wearing the shirt she handed down to me when we hung out on Tuesday! One person’s old shirt is an awesome new component to a girl’s severely lacking wardrobe. Thanks a million, girl.

Breakfast has been the easiest meal for me to be upping my caloric intake with. Why? Because I love breakfast more than anything. It gets my vote for favorite meal of the day. I make my overnight oats the night before so all I have to do in the morning is grab them out of the fridge, throw in some sunflower seed butter (or almond butter or peanut butter) and eat away! I don’t even have to think about it. I just do it. But it has been fun to play with different milk (coconut milk, regular milk, almond milk), fruit (pineapple, banana, oranges, blueberries), and nut butters to create fun combinations of oats!

Knowing I’m starting my day off right and according to my RD’s plan makes me feel good and happy and confident that I’ll be able to get through the day.

3) Family and friends

Obviously I’m always thankful for those two groups of people BUT I have to just stress today how great everyone has been. Also, I guess I should say that in “friends” I’m including all my blog readers and blog fans and strangers who reach out to me. If you’re following my life and are invested in me, I consider you my friend.

Again, people might not be able to understand fully where I’m at right now- but their love and support and encouragement is one of the greatest things they can give me. I do everything in my power to stay positive about all these shenanigans and so other people’s kind words mean more to me than they know. There is a lot of background noise in my head telling me that I can’t do this and that I’m doing something wrong by eating more and whatnot- BUT it’s my friends and family that seem to remind me just when I need it most that I am a champion for recognizing my problem and doing everything I can to get through this. You’re all fueling my progress just fyi (not to put any pressure on you). I may feel awkward when you encourage me and compliment me (because I really don’t love myself or believe in myself most of the time these days), but these constant reminders are bound to sink in fully eventually. So thank you. Sincerely, thank you.

4) Ben and Leslie’s Wedding

UntitledThursdays have become a mandated rest day for me in terms of exercise. After talking to my counselor and RD, we sort of realized that I always have really hard Thursday nights. As a way to combat that, they have recommended I don’t workout on Thursdays and use that time instead to decompose from the work week when I get home. It’s stressful to think about not going to the gym but why stress about it when I know it’s not happening? There’s not much else to think about. I’m not going.

The NBC comedy block, while “just tv shows” to many, is going to be great in taking my attention away from all my stress tonight. Laughter is the best medicine and Parks and Recreation is like, one of my favorite shows of all time. PLUS Leslie Knope and Ben Wyatt are getting married in tonight’s episode! EEEEEE! I will cry- it’s going to happen. But actually I cannot wait.

5) Leftovers

My dinner tonight will be super easy as it is the leftovers from last night‘s super delicious dinner! 

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This would be: a delicious burger (ground beef) topped with a slice of pepper jack cheese, mushrooms, and onions (that I cooked with worcestershire sauce). On the side- a heaping pile of sweet potato wedges and green beans.

I love ground beef but got out of the habit of buying it. My RD has recommended I start eating more of it again. Let me just tell you- this is one change I can get on board with. Burgers are just SO GOOD. I am pumped to have this again tonight.

6) Weekend

I usually give you some specific things I’m looking forward to about the weekend but this time around- I’m just going to flat out say that I’m just excited in general to have three empty days full of time and promise. Tackling my perfectionist and planner tendencies is the hardest on the weekends because I don’t have work to regulate my time for ten hours. Having completely free days allows me to work on just living life, re-learning to enjoy it, take things as they come, re-learn to enjoy the company of others, and be more open to new food experiences. I have solid plans with Will this weekend (and cannot wait for him to get back from NYC), solid plans with friends, and the Oscars are on. Other than that- this weekend will be one where I work on not stressing and actually enjoying the weekend (and not hyper-planning every hour on the hour and letting Ms. Perfection and Ed ruin things. they will be hanging around. they always are. but practice in dealing with them is the only way I’m going to move past them).

It’s going to be rainy tomorrow and Saturday but I’m not going to let it bring me down. Sunday is supposed to be 50 degrees and sunny and Will and I have plans for a epic urban hike. We haven’t decided where to walk yet… but we’re working on it.

Alright people. Time to get back to the daily grind. Also time to grab another cup of coffee. I hope you all have a good Thursday and are able to enjoy life today.

Remember to be kind to yourself and find compassion for all the brilliant things you do everyday. I’m trying to remember this constantly and know I’m not the only one.

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Keep it wicked healthy xoxo